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EcoFarm Conference

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 9:00am to Saturday, January 28, 2017 - 5:45pm

EcoFarm Conference will be held January 25-28, 2017 at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA.

Pre-Conference Organic Produce Meeting Series

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) will host a pre-conference organic produce meeting series in Pacific Grove, California prior to the conference.

The event will be broken into two meeting sessions. The morning session will address the urgent need to develop an organic substitute to the currently allowed use of non-organic celery powder to cure organic processed meats such as organic bacon and sausage. The afternoon session will be an informative and solution-oriented conversation covering multiple critical topics the organic produce sector is facing.

The event is held in conjunction with the EcoFarm Conference; it's a great opportunity to meet and engage with organic produce farmers and handlers prior to the conference. Please join us!


Wednesday, January 25

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: 
OTA's Celery Powder Working Group will facilitate a stakeholder discussion identifying specific target challenges that must be overcome to develop organic substitutes for non-organic celery powder used to cure organic meat products.

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM:
Lunch is available separately from Noon to 2 p.m. for $18/per person.

2:00 PM - 4:30 PM:
Facilitated business conversation covering topics germane to the organic produce sector. Topics covered will include Container Production and Hydroponics, Farm Bill Priorities, Transitional Certification, the proposed GRO Organic Checkoff and Organic Seed Usage Requirements.


Space is limited for this special meeting series. Register yourself and a colleague.
For questions, please contact Tracy Campany, OTA's Events & Projects Manager.

OTA Presentations at EcoFarm Conference

The USDA Organic Check Off: Friend or Foe? 
Thursday, January 26, 3:30 PM
The Organic Trade Association created and promoted the USDA-administered Gro Organic Check Off program. If approved by the vote of certified organic farmers, the program will create a $30 million annual tax on U.S. organic farmers, designed to advance research and promotion for organic foods and fiber. Concerns have been raised by numerous critics. This is the first check off or marketing order to attempt to promote a broad spectrum of crops. All others were developed for a single crop. This is also the first check off designed exclusively for organic foods and will feature a USDA advisory board comprised of farmers and others in the organic food business, including processors and sellers. Numerous issues have arisen, yet the USDA is moving toward an organic farmer vote on the issue. This session will feature two advocates of the program and two who oppose it, in a facilitated, polite discussion between panelists and the audience.

Laura Batcha, Organic Trade Association
Phil LaRocca, LaRocca Vineyards
Steve Sprinkel, The Farmer and the Cook
Tom Pavich, FMP Vineyards

Organic Container Production: Embracing Innovation and Respecting Traditions
Friday, January 27, 10:30 AM
Organic specialty crop producers are facing tremendous pressures on their resources with record droughts and high land prices. Many are looking to innovative production systems to overcome these pressures, and there is a growing trend in some crops to grow in containers. Join Ian Justus (Driscoll’s Berries), Theojary Crisantes (Wholesum Harvest), and Cecille Madriz (Fennell Farms) in a panel discussion around why these producers have embraced container production, how their systems respect organic traditions and meet organic regulations, and where they’re seeing the benefits of container production in their operations.  

Nate Lewis, Organic Trade Association

The Organic Center at EcoFarm Conference

Annual Research Roundup: Recent Science Supporting Organic
Thursday, January 26, 8:30 AM
Every year scientists release a wide variety of research that supports the benefits of organic food and farming. However, many of these cutting-edge studies are never communicated with the public because they are published in journals that are expensive to access. This workshop will help bridge the gap between science and the public, by covering research on applied solutions for farmers, the environmental effects of organic systems, and the human health impacts of exposure to pesticides. Dr. Jessica Shade from the Organic Center will give a brief overview of the multitude of studies published in 2016 of interest to the organic community. Brise Tenser will give an update on the Organic Farming Research Foundation studies on research needs in organic systems and public funding of organic projects. Dr. Asa Bradman from the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) will highlight their recent publications on developmental impacts of prenatal exposure to pesticides.

Dr. Jessica Shade, The Organic Center
Brise Tenser, OFRF
Dr. Asa Bradman, UC Berkeley

Organic Control of Citrus Greening
Friday, January 27, 1:30 PM
The purpose of this workshop is to educate citrus growers about organically approved methods for preventing citrus greening, including the most recent research findings from 2016. Citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing (HLB), threatens the citrus industry on a massive scale. The highly destructive disease can spread quickly and cannot be cured once a tree is infected. Several researchers have recently started to investigate organically compliant methods such as thermal control, resistant rootstocks, organic-compliant antimicrobials and insecticides, and beneficial insects. This workshop will showcase the results from these recent studies, helping protect California farmers from the threat of HLB spread. Ben McLean of Uncle Matt’s Organic will summarize research conducted in Florida on potential organic control of HLB, and Jeff Steen of Ecosa Properties and the California Citrus Research Board will give an update on the HLB situation in California and the need for research targeting organic prevention of HLB here.

Ben McLean, Uncle Matt's Organic
Jeffrey Steen, Ecosa Properties

Conserving Biodiversity Using Organic Practices
Friday, January 27, 3:30 PM
Learn about a spectrum of easily adopted, on-farm conservation activities that support biodiversity and benefit farm systems. Farm management choices reflect the context of the land and the farm’s need and capacity, but can be improved by following general practices along a continuum from simple to complex. In this talk, results will be shared from research on 54 organic farms on the Central Coast and in the Midwest. Results demonstrate how farm management and landscape complexity affect the abundance and diversity of pollinators, the natural enemies of pests (including birds), soil fertility, and the ability of soils to store greenhouse gases. We will share planning tools from the Organic Center to prioritize, record, and monitor biodiversity, and optimize the multiple benefits of on-farm conservation. 

Jo Ann Baumgartner, Wild Farm Alliance
John Quinn, Furman University
Amber R. Sciligo, UC Berkeley

To learn more, please contact OTA's CEO Laura Batcha or the Organic Center's Director of Science Programs Dr. Jessica Shade